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What are ‘Raw’ cards – Definition – The Sports Card Glossary

The hobby usage of ‘raw’ must be one of the strangest examples of sports card jargon to outsiders. Raw sports cards aren’t uncooked sports cards. You don’t cook raw sports cards, though there have been some fun memes of collectors pretending to microwave cards because they’re so HOT 🔥!

Raw sports cards are ungraded sports cards, ie. not encapsulated in a graded slab by PSA, Beckett, SGC or any of the other sports card grading companies.

Truly, they are sports cards in their original, straight-from-the-pack form.

Collectors like to differentiate between raw sports cards and graded sports cards for a few reasons:

  • It gives a sense of the risk associated with buying and/or trading the raw card in that it hasn’t been examined for grading and thus could have defects like scratches, dimples and the like.
  • There can be a big difference in value between raw sports cards and graded sports cards, especially between Gem Mint graded cards and raw cards. (The price difference starts to decrease at Mint and become equal or even lower than raw values at Near Mint.)
  • There’s a sizeable and loud percentage of collectors that prefer raw cards over graded cards. Some of these collectors actually despise graded cards and aren’t shy about sharing their opinion. They’ll go as far as buy graded cards, then crack the raw cards out of the slab.

Hope this helps!

Rory Hansen

Rory Hansen is a San Diego-based sports card collector and social media influencer. Considered an expert in the process of grading sports cards, he regularly advises other collectors on how to assess, prepare and submit cards for grading. Originally from Canada and now living in the US, Rory collects both hockey cards and baseball cards. His personal collection focuses on Shohei Ohtani, Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish, Pavel Bure, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo.